Mountains are some of the most majestic geographic marvels in the world. Along with amazing views, mountains give outdoor aficionados a chance to commune with nature. Plus, it doesn’t feel too bad to relish the accomplishment of achieving an amazing feat of physical endurance. As you scale great heights, you’ll get to know members of the local community and even make lifelong friends with fellow outdoor enthusiasts. But, if you think mountain climbing is outside of your physical ability, don’t fear. Whether you’re a expert explorer or a budding mountaineer, check out our list of the famous mountains around the world that are surprisingly easy to climb.
Mount Kilimanjaro – Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro is both the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world at a whopping 19,341 feet tall. While Kilimanjaro’s incredible height may seem formidable, it’s in fact one of the easiest mountains to scale, provided you’re willing to spend some extra time climbing. Seasoned and not-so-seasoned climbers from all around the world come to scale Kilimanjaro, otherwise known as “Everyone’s Everest.”
Most climbers attempting to ascend Kilimanjaro say that the biggest obstacle is getting used to the thinner air near the summit. It’s for this reason that most guides will take you on a path that can take anywhere from five to nine days. The longer journey will allow you to acclimate to the increasingly thinner air. On the way to the top, you’ll get the chance to see some of the most beautiful and diverse scenery in Africa, including rainforests and alpine deserts.
Mount Fuji – Japan
Japan’s Mount Fuji is one of the most beautiful climbing experiences in Asia, and one of the most instantly recognizable mountains in the world. Fuji has been featured prominently in Japanese art for centuries. Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan at 12,388 feet. Despite this great height, the climb up Mount Fuji is remarkably easy. Nearly 300,000 climb to its peak every year. (Compare that to the 800 people who climb Mount Everest each year.) While Fuji is known for its spectacular views of Tokyo, the mountain is also regarded as a sacred space in Japanese Shinto religious traditions.
The mountain’s popularity comes partially from by its easy walking trails, making the ascent little more than a brisk walk. You’ll be able to climb Fuji and return from the summit in about eight hours, an ideal day trip if you’re planning on visiting Japan’s capital anyway. Or you can hike Fuji overnight to experience breathtaking views of the sunrise over Tokyo.
Mount Whitney – California
Sunny California is home to Mount Whitney, one of the tallest mountains in the continental U.S. at 14,505 feet, and one of the easiest to scale. Most beginner mountaineers approach Whitney as a single-day hike. This hike encompasses a round trip of just over 21 miles that will last anywhere from 12 to 16 hours. While conditions can sometimes be unpredictable because of snow, most experts warn that the most difficult part of the climb is getting used to the thinner air near Whitney’s summit.
Along with the sense of accomplishment that comes from standing on the highest point in the continental U.S., you’ll also enjoy amazing views of Sequoia National Park and Inyo National Forest. But, just remember that the National Park Service requires permits for hiking. These permits are granted through a lottery system to minimize disturbance to the local ecology.
Pikes Peak – Colorado
Pikes Peak is another one of the tallest mountains in the U.S., standing at a full 14,115 feet. To get to the summit, take the beautiful Barr Trail. Although it’s more strenuous than other trails, the Barr Trail offers some of the best views of the Rocky Mountains and forested areas near the peak. You’ll ascend to the top of the mountain in about six to ten hours.
Once you arrive, you’ll have many options to choose from when it comes to your return journey. Although many opt to hike down the mountain, you can also take the Cog Railway or a shuttle bus back to your car.
(P.S. There’s no apostrophe in Pikes Peak, and hasn’t been since 1890, when U.S. Board of Geographic Names removed the apostrophe to simplify signage and create more uniformity among the mountain names. Much to the chagrin of grammar mavens everywhere.)
Breithorn – Switzerland/Italy
If you’re lucky enough to ascend Breithorn, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most picturesque views in all of Europe. Most climbers who scale Breithorn follow what’s known as the Normal Route, which takes you to the south-southwest part of the mountain on the Klein Matterhorn cable car. The Klein Matterhorn cable car will take you to a plateau resting at a height of 12,740 feet. That’s about 900 feet below Breithorn’s peak at 13,661 feet.
The remainder of the trip to the summit encompasses a 35-degree climb in snow and glacier conditions, necessitating the use of crampons and an ice axe. Although this might sound difficult, most climbers who are in good health are able to finish the hike with ease. Upon arriving at Breithorn’s summit, enjoy the panoramic views of the Alps and the nearby Mattertal Valley.
Pico de Orizaba – Mexico
Pico de Orizaba is recognizable around the world for its cone shape and glacier-topped summit. With a peak that reaches a height of around 18,491 feet, Pico de Orizaba is the tallest mountain in Mexico and the third highest point in North America. Pico de Orizaba’s placement on the Gulf of Mexico allows it to accommodate a variety of different microclimates in addition to the glaciers. The mountain also contains a dormant volcano as part of its complex configuration.
In mountaineering circles, Pico de Orizaba is most well-known for its glacier, which many use as a training ground for tougher mountain climbs. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to scale Pico de Orizaba with the help of a guide, who will usually spread out the climb over a few days to help you acclimatize to the thinner air. The climb itself takes about 16 hours, some of which requires crampons and an ice axe.
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Island Peak – Nepal
Not every summit in the Himalayas is as forbidding as Everest or K2. Island Peak in Nepal is one of the most beginner-friendly Himalayas. With a reputation as the easiest 20,000-foot peak in the world, Island Peak is an especially popular choice for tourists looking to stand on one of Nepal’s highest summits. It may not be a walk in the park, but it’s nonetheless a great option for mountaineers without much experience.
Climbing Island Peak is accomplished through several days of trekking through the Himalayas and its adjoining valleys. These treks sometimes last over a week, but are intended to help acclimatize you to the air around Island Peak and ease the final push to the summit. Along the way, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of sites like the famed Lhotse, one of the tallest mountains in the world. The final 3,000-foot climb from the mountain’s base camp to its peak is usually achieved in a single day.
So, what do you say? Are you ready to embark on a mountain-climbing adventure? It may be a lot more accessible than you think.
What’s the easiest mountain you’ve ever climbed? Tell us in the comments section below!